Trust your instincts
Once we’d finished one mountain we’d find ourselves formulating a plan for the next, and with fifty climbs it was relentless for a while. As we couldn’t always rely on the weather reports, our trips had to have an element of flexibility. As the evenings set in we usually found ourselves stumbling into the nearest hotel or auberge hoping they’d have a spare room. One truly memorable experience was on the borders of Switzerland and Austria where we were greeted by a pink-nosed and very angry looking hotelier. When entering a hotel you usually have a few seconds in which you can change your mind and make a hasty retreat without upsetting the locals. Our instincts were telling us not to stay there – and in hindsight we should have gone with our guts – but it was too late, we were already in negotiations for a room.
Too tired to complain
Within minutes of arriving the hotelier became obsessed with sending us to the bar, shouting "Trinken!" uncomfortably close to our faces, his breath engulfing us in a toxic cloud of alcohol and cigarettes, topped off with soupçon of bratwurst. He probably thought if we got drunk enough the state of our accommodation would improve, but unfortunately, there wasn’t enough booze in Switzerland to make an improvement on that room... It was as if I were looking through the lens of my camera with a sepia filter; the damp wallpaper peeling at the edges clung on for dear life, whilst the ceiling had become mottled over the years with yellow and brown smoke stains, a stale odour emanating from the threadbare carpet topped off the sensory experience. After driving more than 200 miles that day and shooting the jaw-dropping Albulapass, we were just too tired to complain…
Mountain Higher: Europe’s Extreme Undiscovered and Unforgettable Cycle Climbs (Quercus £25) by Daniel Friebe and Pete Goding is out now